Ávila and Collado Villalba 142 kms. Read the live coverage
Tino Zaballa – flags, colour, passion, cycling! Courtesy Saunier-Duval.
Zaballa’s epic ride!
After 18 stages of epic battle and with two more demanding stages yet to
come, the stars of La Vuelta were, perhaps, entitled to be allowed a small
pause before the final weekend showdown.
The cruel climb of the Alto de Abantos, where Isidro Nozal of Liberty
Seguros lost the Vuelta last year, had less impact this year. Roberto
Heras, Alejandro Valverde, Santi Pérez and Paco Mancebo all had their mind
on tomorrow's three first category climbs before the mountain top finish on
the feared Navacerrada. The thought of tomorrow's stage and Sunday's time
trial stopped the riders from riding the way they have been since they
started in León on the 4th of September.
Constantino Zaballa, Joaquin Rodriguez on the attack! (c) Unipublic.
Constantino “Tino” Zaballa has been active and aggressive since the race
started and today he did not change his tactics. As soon as the stage had
started, and the peloton was passing the city walls of Avila, Zaballa
launched the attack, taking with him nineteen rivals.
However, not content to be just part of the break, the rider from Santander
decided to go through Santa Maria, Robledondo and Abantos alone. Conscious
of the fact that the victory would be great for his team as well as for him,
he did not look back once. Even if among the chasers was Damiano Cunego, the
winner of the Giro d´Italia 2004, Zaballa rode a perfect race. Lady luck
has not been in favour of the Saunier Duval team in this race; Beloki
abandoned and on this stage Martin Perdiguero crashed and also had to
withdraw; indeed, when victory was nearly in sight “Tino” was stung by a
bee, but he proved the old adage that sometimes you have to make your own
luck and road on to a glorious solo victory that thrilled the fans in Collado Villalba.
Tomorrow, the GC contenders will have to follow his example and fight for
victory; Roberto Heras, who is still the leader, Santi Pérez, who is the man
in form, Alejandro Valverde and Paco Mancebo and their teams will be
preparing tonight for the final battle.
But today belongs to one man, and the Daily Peloton would like to say –
Man on a mission “Tino” crosses over the Santa Maria. (c) Unipublic.
Determination pays off in the end
Tino Zaballa was naturally delighted after he crossed the line – “It has
been a very good year for the team, we have confirmed that we are a strong
squad. If you keep trying you will succeed and I have been fighting all
through this race. I helped form a break two days ago when Felix Cardenas
won, but then an upset stomach meant it was impossible for me to stay with
the rest. You may remember last year in Rozas I raised my hands in victory
only to see another rider win, still such disappointments are forgotten now
I have won in Collado Villalba. I believe that Valverde can still win this race. I dedicate my stage win to
my mother, who died of cancer, that is why I looked to the sky when I
crossed the line.”
Valverde gets ready for war. (c) Unipublic.
Valverde ready for the final battles
Alejandro Valverde, of CV Kelme, believes that in the two days left of the
Vuelta he will continue to fight for the top step of the podium - "We are
guerrillas and we will continue to fight until the very end. We will not
know what happen but we will continue fighting. The stage is set for riders
to do damage. If we have good legs we will fight to the bitter end."
Sastre slips. (c) Unipublic.
Carlos Garcia Quesada improves
The only major move on the GC was that of Kelme's Carlos Garcia who moved up
the rankings – the CSC website explains what went wrong -
“Team CSC's Carlos Sastre slipped to seventh overall after Friday's stage 19
in Vuelta a España. Kelme's Carlos Garcia was part of a big break away,
which finished more than five minutes ahead of the peloton. This meant
Garcia improved from 11th to sixth place overall.
"The Kelme rider was flying today, and he bridged the gap to the break away
on his own. There were very few attacks in the peloton, so instead we tried
to reel in the leaders, but unfortunately none of the other teams had much
interest in contributing. Perhaps Carlos is able to improve in the last two
stages. Tomorrow's mountain stage will be very tough, and a lot can still
happen in the overall standings,” said Team CSC's sports director Kim
Liberty S – looking good. Photo by
Liberty S the only full team left
In what has been an exceptionally tough race, only 124 riders started stage
19. Four more riders abandoned during the stage: Danilo Di Luca (Sae),
Miguel A.Martin Perdiguero (Sdv), Ruben Plaza Molina (Kel) and Ellis
Rastelli (Alb) poor ol’ David Fernandez Domingo (Alm) failed to make the
time cut and was eliminated. Only Roberto Heras and his Liberty Seguros
team have a full complement now. As for AG1R, yes Inigo Charreau continues
as their only rider he finished in 41st spot today – Chappeau Inigo!
Golden boy Heras. (c) Unipublic.